UC Irvine Residents Gear Up to Bargain First CIR Contract
CIR membership in Southern California has grown by nearly 30 percent in the space of a few months, and momentum is building for even more California housestaff to add their voices.
Resident physicians at the University of California at Irvine Medical Center became the first in the University of California system to join CIR and are poised to negotiate a first union contract this summer for the 594-person bargaining unit.
“Having our resident union officially recognized by the University of California is awesome!” said Dr. Tracy Burns, a pediatric-anesthesiology resident. “It’s been a long time coming. My colleagues and I look forward to working with hospital administrators to construct an equitable contract that acknowledges resident physician contributions and reflects the mission of this institution to discover, teach, and heal.”
UCIMC housestaff originally filed a petition for recognition as PAPSA, the Patient and Physician Safety Association, in 2011 and then voted to affiliate with CIR in 2013. California’s Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) heard arguments from both the union and the hospital administration and ultimately ruled that interns, residents and fellows are in fact employees and legally entitled to form a union.
“At this pivotal time of transformational change in health care, it is more important than ever that those at the front line of health care delivery be a collaborative partner in making decisions that impact the care of the Orange County community,” said Dr. David Safani, a psychiatry fellow UCIMC.
“The collective voice of UC Irvine resident physicians will be heard as we join in the process of improving the quality of medical services provided in Orange County.”
Dignity Health Residents in Los Angeles Vote to Join CIR
The housestaff at the USC-affilated California Hospital in Los Angeles are on their way towards a first contract that they hope will eventually set state-wide standards. The hospital is part of Dignity Health, which operates a chain of 30 hospitals statewide.
Seeking a way to improve their education and training, strengthen patient care, and enhance the hospital, the 25 family medicine residents at California Hospital reached out to CIR in late 2013 about organizing a new CIR chapter. They moved swiftly to gather the signatures of 100 percent of their colleagues on a petition for unionization and in December they voted unanimously to join CIR.
“Being part of CIR is the first step in uniting our voice to improve our work conditions, our place at CHMC and patient care,” said Dr. Michael Downing after the vote. “Now we are CIR and have 13,000 residents from across the country standing with us.”
It’s Official: Elmhurst Hospital Residents Vote to Join CIR
Elmhurst Hospital became CIR’s newest chapter in late March, after a favorable decision from the National Labor Relations Board and a majority vote to make CIR the official bargaining agent for the 140 housestaff.
While Elmhurst is part of HHC, New York City’s public hospital system, its residents are on the payroll of Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. The resident physicians at the hospital filed for union recognition in September, in hopes of a greater voice to determine their salaries, working conditions, and the delivery of patient care.
“I’m very glad about the result, and I’m glad the waiting is over and we can finally move forward to come up with a contract that both sides can agree on and that hopefully will make our situation and the patients’ situation better,” said Dr. Fabian Engelbertz, a second year Pediatrics resident.
Mount Sinai argued in hearings before the National Labor Relations Board that resident physicians are students, not employees, and therefore not eligible for union representation. The regional NLRB decided in favor of the residents, reaffirming a 1999 ruling in the Boston Medical Center (BMC) case stating that resident physicians are employees.
“Now it’s time for next step, which is the contract negotiations,” said Dr. Yasmin Sanchez, a Pediatrics resident.“We hope to continue to have a strong relationship with our program directors and Mount Sinai administrators. We are optimistic for the future and ready to sit down and talk.”